Glitches, but Radiohead soldier on

Lead singer of Radiohead Thom Yorke performs on the opening day of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California on April 14, 2017.
Lead singer of Radiohead Thom Yorke performs on the opening day of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California on April 14, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

INDIO (California) • Radiohead salvaged a headlining set at the Coachella festival from disaster last Friday, following a glitch-plagued opening in which the audio system repeatedly crashed.

The experimental rock icons, booked for the third time to lead the premier festival in the California desert, played most of two songs in awkward silence with frontman Thom Yorke oblivious that the audience could no longer hear.

After twice retreating from stage to deal with the audio problems, Radiohead soldiered on with raw renditions of their best-known songs - including Creep, their 1992 debut single.

Such glaring technical problems are exceedingly rare for a band the calibre of Radiohead and Coachella, one of the world's most lucrative cultural events renowned for its slick organisation.

Radiohead opened powerfully but, a couple of songs into the set, the sound turned off completely as they belted out 15 Step, with lead guitarist Jonny Greenwood appearing to notice problems.

But Yorke, locked in his personal zone with his eyes closed and a sound monitor in his ear, jammed away with passion, unaware that the crowd could see but not hear.

Similar issues quickly arose again on Let Down, with members of the crowd, after a collective groan, singing along to substitute for the inaudible Yorke.

Rarely chatty on stage, Yorke took responsibility for the technical problems and voiced appreciation to the crowd for staying put.

The problems came despite growing technological confidence at this year's Coachella, where drones captured crowd footage, cellular reception stayed mostly consistent and a planetarium-style dome led by Hewlett Packard offered festival-goers a 360-degree journey through space.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2017, with the headline 'Glitches, but Radiohead soldier on'. Print Edition | Subscribe